How To: Alligator Crawl

The Alligator Crawl

A quadrupedal locomotion exercise that can strike fear into the most hardened individual. But if mastered can make you feel like this guy:


It’s not a drill we use a lot, there are certain prerequsites a person must fulfill before being able to gain a safe training effect from this drill. Up untill those prerequsites are ticked off, you’re practicing the drill rather than gaining from training the drill.

Here’s a video tutorial, I expand on the info in the clip below:

So what is to be gained from this odd looking and very challenging movement?

First look at the base possition.

It’s essentially the bottom end of a push up, your chest hovering above the floor. This loads up the entire anterior core from the stretched out pectorals down to the rectus abdominis, taking in the serratus anterior, obliques and pretty much anything else with a cool latin name.

Many folk struggle acheiving this position, if you’re one of them, thats your first prerequisite.

In this bottom position its very common for people to allow their shoulder roll up and forwards. This is the reason many find shoulder pain during push ups, presses and will certainly feel it in the Alligator Crawl.

You may need to do some serratus anterior activation drills to make sure that’s firing, and possibly spend some time opening up the chest and working on your external rotation.

Next is the pelvic alignment.

Try to hold neutral or push towards a posterior pelvic tilt. Basically, eliminate the arch in your low back as much as is resonable and feel the tension come into the abdominals.

Now we move.

This is an ipsilateral gait pattern. Which in simple terms means you move one side of your body at a time. So left hand and left foot move together, then right hand and right foot.

This is the opposite to our natural walking/running/crawling gait cycle where the right hand moves with the left foot and vica versa.

This simple element can be enough to throw a lot of people as they may never have attempted to develop the coordination in this manner.

You’ll notice in the video I’m on my fists. This is the way i was taught the drill and have always trained it, but the being on the palms is perfectly viable. If you’re on a hard floor, it’s preferable.

Now where does the power come from?

Good question.

All the prime movers are disadvantaged. The pecs and tricpes are stretched and can’t produce maximal tension, so where are we working?

You’re learning to fire the serratus, build triceps strength in a closed elbow and more importantly develop power from the spine in close range.

Yes this is a drill from the Chinese martial arts, popular with BJJ players and Wrestlers, so it’s primary function is close range explosive power.

Looking cool is merely a by product.

I have a challenge in my gym that anyone who can do this the full length of my mat (15meters) gets a free session. So far my money has been safe.

Regards Dave Hedges

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